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Why Apple Bought $578M Worth Of Sapphire In Advance

on November 8, 2013

TechCrunch

Apple is building a manufacturing plant in Arizona that will be used by GT Advanced Technologies to make sapphire crystals for use in its products. Apple currently uses sapphire in its home buttons and camera lens covers, but several details about the material itself and the nature of its deal with GT indicate that it could be expanding its interests in the hard crystalline substance over the next several years.

Sapphire, specifically synthetic, manufactured sapphire, has several properties that make it of interest to Apple. First of all, sapphire is superior to glass, even Corning’s Gorilla Glass material, in several ways. Synthetic sapphire has no color, as it’s a single crystal grown to be optically transparent — making it look very similar to glass. But it’s also extremely hard — 9 on the Mohs scale — which means better scratch resistance.

“Chemically strengthened glass can be excellent, but sapphire is…

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